Millions raised to fund Jamestown Parks and Recreation renovation projects

Sep. 9—JAMESTOWN — Kari Newman Ness' run-in with an obscure sport 10 years ago, sparked a $500,000, community-wide construction project.

"In 2013 was out visiting my dad's home in California and I went for a walk," Newman Ness said. "I heard this strange noise and thought, 'What is that?' I walked by and noticed that it was smaller courts, groups of four people, different paddles, different balls and this noise.

"So I asked somebody and they told me it was pickleball," she said. "The next year I had some friends coming to visit so we went and bought some $8 wooden paddles and went over to the tennis courts and looked up on our phones how to play. We figured it out and all four of us still play."

As interest started to grow, Newman Ness quickly figured out that a new space was needed to play.

"Probably four years ago, we realized if we formed a club organized ourselves that would be the best way to get some courts built," Newman Ness said. "When we talked with Parks and Rec and they found us a spot to build, we got busy raising money for the courts."

Newman Ness is now the Jamestown Area Pickleball Club president. Within the last year, the club raised approximately $240,000 for the construction of six outdoor pickleball courts between the Meidinger Splash Park and the Two Rivers Activity Center.

"The community really came out to support that project," Jamestown Parks and Recreation Director Amy Walters said. "We're seeing what is happening in the rest of the country in our own community. It's just been exploding — multiplying on what seems to be a daily basis."

"It has nothing to do with us, pickleball is just getting really popular," Newman Ness said. "It's on the news — it's all over, you can't not realize pickleball is out there."

At this time Newman Ness and other club members can usually be found playing at Feton Park or indoors at TRAC.

The setup has worked fine but Newman Ness said the club members are eagerly awaiting the completion of the outdoor court construction.

"We haven't offered any clinics or leagues or tournaments but all of those things we hope to offer when we get our new courts," Newman Ness said. "We will definitely offer lessons. It's a sport available to men, women, young, old, fit, not-so-fit, athletically talented, not-so athletically talented.

"We welcome everyone — there is almost always someone around who can help the younger players and get them going and interested," she said. "You can always find someone at your level to play with. My dream is that when the courts are finished I'll drive up and there will be people there to play with and we won't have to organize games through an app."

Court construction began in late May.

"That's an active construction project right now," Walters said. "The concrete pad has been poured and is now curing and when that fully cures, the surfacing company will come back and apply that surface so it will be lined and striped specifically for pickleball and then we need to do the finishing touches such as fencing and signage."

The scheduled completion date for the six outdoor courts is mid-October. The rest of the approximately $550,000 project was funded through a North Dakota Parks and Recreation Land and Water Conservation grant.

The Land and Water Conservation grant also allocated funds to the construction of three sand volleyball courts, located just to the right of the pickleball facility.

"We're kind of waiting for the pickleball court project to balance out but we're hopefully looking at the installation of three sand volleyball courts yet this fall," Walters said. "Our hope is they would be in before winter but some of that depends on how soon winter comes."

No further details regarding the volleyball courts were disclosed at this time.

Pickleball players aren't the only ones in Jamestown who have had a renovation to current facilities.

Earlier this summer, Walters oversaw a resurfacing project at Bolinger Tennis Courts.

"We resurfaced and repaired the actual court surface itself and then we just worked on some general site improvements — painting, updating, trying to make it a bit more comfortable for the tennis community and fans," Walters said. "Our tennis community is very active and we didn't want to line it for pickleball because then it would lose its accreditation as a regulation tennis court and our high school teams couldn't play matches there."

Walters said the resurfacing project at Bolinger utilized grant funds and some financial support from the United States Tennis Association and Jamestown Tourism.

"That project is essentially complete we just have a few minor things yet to do over there," Walters said.

While some projects might be completed this fall, others are going to be in the beginning stages of construction.

Back in July 2021, the Jamestown Public School Board unanimously approved the installation of new lights at Trapper Field.

"It's been an ongoing conversation about wanting and needing lights," Walters said. "It's really been a struggle in the spring and fall for our high school and collegiate teams. That addition will really extend our time of playability both from a game and practice standpoint."

The Jamestown Public School District contributed $20,000 to the approximately $200,000 project. The Trapper Field project is also funded by a Land and Water Conservation Fund grant. In addition to the grant funds, the Jamestown Rotary Club, the University of Jamestown and the Jamestown Fastpitch Softball Club have committed to help finance the purchasing and installation of the lights.

Walters said the installation work for the lights is slated to begin later this month.

Across the parking lot from Trapper Field at the Al Boelke Little League Fields, the renovation ball is definitely rolling and has picked up some considerable momentum in the last few months.

"We are continuing to make progress with the McElroy Park field renovation project," Walters said. "We are continuing to actively fundraise (but) we have entered into contract with Mammoth Sports Construction and are in the design and engineering phase with them. We're hoping to finalize the design plans and potentially break ground this fall on that project."

Walters said the Parks and Rec Department created a three-phased approach to this $9 million project — a north phase, a south phase and then some renovations at Jack Brown Stadium.

Through grants, donations and pledges the Parks and Recreation Department has raised $3.2 million to date. More than $600,000 has been raised since mid-April. The targeted cost for the south phase, located near the existing Al Boelke complex, is $4 million.

"What we are pushing towards is to get to our first milestone of $4 million," Walters said. "We are excited about how far we've come and feel really good about that but we also realize that we have a ways to go and that it is a multi-phase project."

The south phase of the renovations consists of constructing two Cal Ripken or fastpitch softball fields, one with a turf infield, a Babe Ruth field, youth tee ball field as well as a concessions and restrooms building with a paved patio area.

The Parks and Recreation Department is still actively seeking donations for the project. Interested parties can donate via the

Jamestown Parks and Recreation website


"We are so appreciative of all the support we've received from the community to date," Walters said. "We're really proud of the projects and the progress that is being made. We know there is more work to be done and we're going to keep working until we can get to the finish line."